Overcoming Adversity: Coleen Boyes, an experienced mountain bike racer and coach returns to the trails on her new Bowhead Adaptive Mountain Bike with the help of Rocky Trail Destination and thanks to Fox Factory’s Trail Trust Fund and the Support of the Hunter Mountain Bike Association Club. This is Coleen’s story.
Rocky Trail Destination’s mission is to help others experience the trails. For the last few months we have been supporting an accessibility project with the Hunter Mountain Bike Association. In the context of mountain biking, accessibility refers to the ability for individuals with disabilities to participate in the sport. This includes providing specialized equipment, such as adaptive mountain bikes, and creating accessible trails and facilities.
Adaptive mountain biking is a form of the sport that allows individuals with disabilities to experience the thrill of off-road cycling.
Adaptive mountain bikes are specially designed to accommodate a wide range of physical abilities and disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, amputations, and paralysis. They feature modifications such as hand cranks, electronic shifting, and power-assisted pedals to make the sport accessible to a wider range of riders.
For someone who has suffered a life-changing injury like 57-year old Coleen Boyes, returning to the sport of mountain biking can seem impossible. But with the advancements in adaptive technology and the availability of specialized equipment, plus the support of an engaged community and a ton of grit, it has been possible for her to get back on the trails and experience the freedom and joy of cycling.
Coleen’s return to ‘rocky trails’
Coleen is an experienced mountain bike racer and coach who has recently returned to the trails on her new adaptive mountain bike after suffering a life-changing injury. On December 6, 2020, Coleen was involved in a mountain biking accident at the Awaba MTB Park near Newcastle, resulting in a T3 complete spinal cord injury. This accident was a huge setback for Coleen, but with the support of her local Hunter Mountain Bike Association Club and the Trail Trust Fund initiative by Fox Factory, she was able to get back out on the trails with the Bowhead Reach Adaptive MTB E-Bike.
As a committee member of the Hunter Mountain Bike Association (HMBA), Coleen has played a vital role in planning and building the Awaba MTB Park, which has become one of the major mountain bike riding and racing destinations in New South Wales. She has been one of the driving forces behind the club’s efforts to put together a volunteer force for the construction of a multi-purpose trail suitable for Adaptive MTB riding. The trail is approximately 1.6 km through a beautiful bush and forest setting, with some exhilarating down sections combined with some ‘ups’ and pinches.
The Bowhead Bike project has been driven by Rocky Trail Destination, who has been instrumental in securing the Bowhead Bike for Coleen. This project is a testament to the dedication and support of the Hunter Mountain Bike Association Club and Fox Factory’s Trail Trust Fund initiative in helping Coleen achieve her goal of getting back on the trails and participating in the sport she loves.
Fox Factory’s Trail Trust initiative is proud to partner with the Hunter Mountain Bike Association to expand access to cycling to all. We commend the Club’s commitment to providing opportunities for people with disabilities to get outdoors and experience the thrill of adventure.– Fox Factory Team, Trail Trust Fund Initiative
The Bowhead was identified as the best suited to Coleen’s specific needs and was spec’d with Fox Factory suspension. Coleen can ride it on a wide range of trails with independence, control and safety, particularly technical and narrow “single track” trails. This is a significant achievement for Coleen, as it is the ability to participate safely and equally at this level of riding that is fundamental to her riding participation goals as well as her role in coaching.
Adaptive mountain biking is a way for individuals with disabilities to return to a sport they thought was impossible for them, and to experience the freedom, joy, and sense of community that comes with it. We’ve been on a mission to help others experience the trails, so to manage this project was truly rewarding. To support Coleen on this journey and to ride with her at Awaba MTB Park again was amazing.Juliane Wisata, Rocky Trail Destination
The Awaba MTB Park is located in the Olney State Forest, managed by the NSW Forestry Corporation. In 2016, the club volunteers, including Coleen alongside her family, constructed a multi-purpose trail suitable for Adaptive MTB riding. The trail is approximately 1.6 kms through a beautiful bush and forest setting with some exhilarating down sections combined with some ‘ups’ and pinches. The trail is frequented by beautiful native fauna including Wallabies and Goannas – there’s the odd bush turkey to shoo out of the way as well. The Hunter Mountain Bike Association will continue to work
On behalf of Coleen Boyes and HMBA, we would like to thank the Trail Trust Fund and Fox Factory for providing this initiative, which will allow the club to keep working on promoting inclusion and equal access to outdoor recreational activities at Awaba MTB Park by supporting the development of accessible trails and facilities, as well as providing support and resources for adaptive mountain bikers, like Coleen.
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to a special group of Australian businesses for their generous support as well as a donation by the Jetblack MTB Racing Team. Together they helped with the initial part-funding of the Bowhead Adaptive MTB E-Bike project.
We would also like to thank Grant Allen from Push Mobility, the Australian distributors for Bowhead, for his guidance and support throughout the process of customising the Bowhead Bike for Coleen.
Rocky Trail Destination remains dedicated to making the sport of mountain biking accessible to all, allowing individuals with disabilities to experience the freedom, joy, and sense of community that comes with it, and fostering trail-based activities for everyone to enjoy.